Supposedly if you don't know your history then you're doomed to repeat it, and that's something we see a lot in skateboarding. We're not the first here and we probably won't be the last, skateboarding is eternal, shops are ephemeral.
Having worked within the UK and Global skateboard industry for more than two decades Mark 'Fos' Foster has a good view on the current state and the history of UK skateboard retail, and with that in mind he created a graphic for us acknowledging our local forebears - Air, Wisdom and Exit.
In an effort to initiate our #content and synchronise branding for the Welcome x Fos collection we spoke to the Heroin Skateboards & Snot Wheels creator about some stuff.
1. What was your first experience of a skate shop?
Split Skates in Manchester, legendary shop. You were scared to take your parents there because they’d be cranking Black Flag and loads of the T-shirts had the word "Fuck" on them. It was kind of a "right of passage” I think really. They had 500+ boards in all the time, you could choose any colour of Natas that you wanted. It was incredible.
2. What makes a good skate store?
The staff really, if you have good people who are passionate and knowledgeable about it all then they’re the ones who push to get the good brands and the customers can see that they’re backing them and in turn feel like they’re being directed in the right place.
That, and having a good range of Heroin boards.
3. How many collaborations do you think that you’ve done altogether?
As an artist, maybe 40 or 50. With Heroin Skateboards maybe 20 or 30.
4. Other than this one which was the best?
I liked the Emerica x Fos Ridgemont shoe.
5. Any regrets?
No time. I have friends who sit around and mope about stuff that happened in the past “They shouldn’t have done this, or they did this and are bummed” I don’t think it’s a good mind set to have.
6. Why haven’t you stopped?
Cos I love this shit, why would I stop? What would I do, get all fat and hang around the same pub for 30 years talking about how much I used to love skateboarding, or actually go out there and skate?
7. Do you believe in life after love?
Ha, I do. See number 5.
8. If your team was utilised for personal security who would you pick as a lead bodyguard?
Deer Man of Dark Woods.
9. Would it be worth cryogenically freezing Dead Dave so the future can have him for experimentation?
I think it’s the only way that the human race has any chance of survival.
10. What’s the secret to having a skateboarding brand like Heroin last so long?
It helped with a super sketchy name so that all the mums go, “I’m not buying you a board that says that on it” and about half of the shops go “We’re not carrying that” so it gets rid of all the crybabies right from the start. Then you can focus on doing whatever the fuck you want with the brand for 20 years and having fun with it. I love doing this shit, I’m sharing my vision of skateboarding with the world. If I can bring attention to the Osaka Daggers, Barrier Kult and Dead Dave, then it's a win for me. Also Heroin was never about one or two riders, it is a culmination of everyone that rides for it at a certain time. So someone can leave, and that would be disastrous for some brands, but it doesn’t even bum me out really, we had about three or four guys leave a few years back and it allowed me to put Zane and Dave on.
Both of those guys went Pro this year, it’s been great. People really decide their own level of involvement with the brand, Chopper has ridden for us for 20 years, other guys just last a couple of years, it’s all fine. Pulman rode for us (The first time) from around 2000-2007 or so, he had two great video parts and a few boards out. It’s a great legacy. I think it helps having partners like Power Distribution and Baker Boys, who really let me run the company however I want and trust me.
11. True or false? Snot wheels are made from recycled magic sticky hands?
That’d be telling...
Farran Golding sat down on the phone with AVE to get the history behind that famous curved green bench!
1. Who’s behind this show?
I’m (Greg) steering the general visual direction and sorting out production/talking to shops. My best friend George Toland is heading up the filming and editing our videos, he's the double sided sticky tape that keeps everything and everyone attached (glue sounds a bit extreme). Alongside us two all of our mates make up the returning cast of our videos and they will be contributing to the art and creative projects that we put out.
2. When did Serious Adult get so 'serious'?
I suppose when the rest of the world did and everything fell flat on its arse last year. Over the last few years I’ve been getting progressively more bogged down with boring office life and we ended up having a pretty unproductive year in 2019, which was unusual for us! Then lockdown started and I got furloughed, it freed up time to think about what made me happy and what we could do with Serious Adult. 2020 was spent having fun, skating an empty carpark and making a Serious Adult Zine (so you’re having a midlife crisis).
Over the last 5 years our group of friends have been making video and print projects, putting on art exhibitions and premiers it's naturally led us to this point where we have a little cauldron of creativity that we’re all contributing to thats started to bubble over.
3. Now you are under the guise of 'Serious Adult Publishing House', what's going on?
Our friends have all had more time freed up to work on their own projects because of the lockdowns and a lack of 9-to-5 work me realise we have a vehicle to promote our friends creative output.
I also got really into reading up on the Oz Magazine Trials and that led to learning about the underground press movement in general. It’s been a big influence. so we’ve created the Serious Adult Publishing House; to host creative projects and promote the work of our friends and collaborators.
4. The "brand" has always seemed to be video output come first and product second do you see that shifting?
Our latest video is a remastered compilation of the last 5 years of work from our first video to the most recent. George worked out there are elements from 13 videos involved, so we’ve definitely always made more videos than products! Going forward there will be more of both as things become more structured. We’re aiming to put out three runs a year, with each run split into a product release, followed by a print or video project release.
The products are always rooted in illustration so they’re really fun to work on and we’re planning to get some more artists involved this year. Products in shops give us that financial kick to give back to our contributors so there’s some security to get things made.
A portion of money made on products will be set aside to fund the print and visual projects as well as the homies that create the projects, they'll be able to take the profit made. This first run has given us budget to cover a UK trip, get some new camera gear and pay George a wage to film while we’re there, so the incentive for more product is always going to be to fund our video and creative projects.
5. With the switch up on the product front does that mean the whole team has been cut?
We're dropping everyone to free up some cash to incentivise Dan Peterka to come out of retirement. Obviously all our friends involved so far have been cashing some serious cheques these last 5 years. We’re talking storm era Osiris monthly take homes!
6. Who's riding for SAPH?
The same crew that’s consistently filmed in all our projects plus a few new additions; Josh Mason is a mate of ours thats had odd clips in our videos. George and I have always been really stoked on and Theo Hughes whose been a staple of The Grove DIY. Those two are both going to be filming for the new video we’re working on now, George and I are really stoked the two of them are on board.
After such a fragmented year it’s gonna feel amazing to get everyone together on a trip, we'll finally hang out and have a laugh together. It's all reliant on it being safe to travel and hang in a group of course, fingers crossed!
7. What makes Serious Adult tick?
Seeing my mates work get out there and if we’re successful give them the chance to earn something back with the profit we make.
I’m really excited to push the zine and print side of things further and hopefully we can get more people involved and get more art out there and in shops and peoples houses.
8. Could you talk us through producing the Zine 'So You're Having A Mid-Life Crisis?
So last summer I was on furlough, just waiting to be made redundant after spending two years working to an unhealthy level trying to push my career. It kind of all fell apart so quickly and with the good weather and time on my hands I just started skating at my local carpark during my daughters naps and after she had gone to bed. I got super stoked on skateboarding because it was like reliving that first year of skating when you were figuring it all out. Also the carpark nearby was pretty much an exact replica of the carpark I grew up skating with Hold Tight Henry and Faris Hassan, so maybe there was some subconscious link there. Either way I realised I felt like a kid again, then worryingly I realised that I was listening to Frampton Comes Alive alot. I’m a 34 year old bloke skating by myself, selfie filming on a vx2000 (I'm thick and didn’t realise I could buy pretty much unlimited storage on my phone for 2 quid) propped up on an old tub of paint for a camera stand, trying to learn all the tech stuff I wanted to do in my twenties while sipping non-alcoholic beers. I thought although I’m not middle aged, if ever there was a mid life crisis, This has to be it.
This is a bit pathetic maybe but perhaps I was just afraid of going back into a career. I had began to hate myself for immersing in that and also afraid that there were no jobs to even go back to. When I finally knuckled down and accepted that it was an inevitability that furlough money wasn’t going to be there I realised that if what I was doing was a bit of a reaction to work taking over my life and although it may look a bit sad from the outside (mostly the Frampton element there) it was actually really fun and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
The zine is about accepting the changes that come with age and life outside of skating and to me learning to embrace it. It’s for skaters hiding their bald patch under their stüssy caps. Read the zine and by the end you will be skating bare headed or your money back guaranteed.
9. Does anything inspire SAPH?
If you want a nerdy answer about the visual inspiration, I spend all my spare time thinking about skateboarding and watching cartoons.
The comix and underground press movement is really interesting and a big influence in terms of concept but maybe visually I’m more interested in the images that birthed that new wave, or that those cartoonists ended up pushing against. Funny animal comics and Detective Comics from the 50s and 60s.
Traditionally the cartoons or drawings I’ve made are structurally based on Newspaper strips like Pogo by Walt Kelly and Peanuts by Charles Schulz. It’s only recently that I realised it’s redundant just posting this stuff online when I’m emulating these print products and strip compilation books when it’s totally within my grasp just to produce that myself.
Once everything is in shops and less chaotic I’m gonna get really stuck into Carl Barks, Fred Guardineer and a few others comic artists. There’s a Japanese cartoon called Future Boy Conan which has some great visual slapstick stuff and I’ve spent a lot of time watching that this year and it a definitely been an influence in the drawings to some degree.
In terms of skating and videos, I’ll try to avoid answering for George but I can say just going out and having fun with our friends, bouncing ideas off each other and a strong desire to find fresh and fun spots is a major factor.
10. At what point are you going to sell-out?
As soon as we get the chance.
This week in Studio E sees the visit of leg arch Illinois skateboard Marisa Dal Santo!
Marisa talks growing up skating with characters like Neen and Sinner, her legendary ‘Strange World’ part, current day shenanigans and much more.
Then remind yourself of this goodness....